Auburn, Ala.--Now that the question of who the starting quarterback will be for the Auburn Tigers in the season opener has been announced, the next order of business is to fine tune the offense to be able to play at the tempo Gus Malzahn has been preaching since the end of the 2015 season.
Working on playing faster and faster since first stepping on the field in spring practice, starting quarterback Sean White said it has been a priority throughout the summer and into fall camp. He said it’s something that has been a conscious effort for the Tigers every day and that continues heading into game week.
“I think it’s been a lot faster this fall camp than I’ve experienced recently,” White said. “Coach has definitely put an emphasis on it, and we’re trying to follow that.”
For White the tempo isn’t something that is unfamiliar, but with more comfort in the offense and more experience comes a better understanding of just how to make things run at a quicker pace. Getting a taste of what life in the SEC is all about last season, White said coming back in his third year has made things slow down for him mentally which in turn allows him to process information much faster.
“I’m handling it fine,” White said. “Going fast, I think that’s a big difference between this year and last year. Last year if we were going so fast I wouldn’t be able to really think about what I’m going to do on this play. Now, I already know it. By the time the ball is snapped I’ve looked at the defense and the play clock hasn’t even started yet, and I know what’s going on.”
The importance of getting the starting quarterback in place with enough time to point the offense in one direction is something that Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee have talked about since the Tigers started preseason camp. While it took a little longer than most expected, Malzahn said in the end they knew it was time to pick their guy and allow the offense to move forward.
“It was a good competition,” Malzahn said. “Rhett and I talked probably the last 48 hours. We felt like we needed to get it done. That's when we started talking, the last 48 hours.
“We had meetings. We'll evaluate each scrimmage, but when you get down to 'hey, it's time to name a guy' and that's how both of us felt. We were both on the same page.”
That led them to White, the guy that is now in charge of taking this Auburn offense back to a place among the best in the Southeastern Conference once again. Now with the opportunity to tailor the offense specifically to White and what he does best, Malzahn said the goal is for the offense to begin to click on all cylinders come the season opener.
“You would hope to when you narrow things down with your quarterback situation,” Malzahn said of focusing the offense on a particular quarterback. “You would hope the execution would really be higher. That's a goal. That's one of the reasons we felt like we needed to name somebody now instead of later.”